Marcos Alonso concedes that Chelsea will have to “win every game” to stand any chance of defending their Premier League title.
The Blues swept to the English top-flight crown last season, with domestic dominance secured in some style.
Chelsea’s Italian coach has already thrown in the towel, claiming that any title talk at Stamford Bridge is “bull****”, and Alonso admits that only a faultless run through 20 fixtures would put the Blues back in the picture.
"It was very disappointing the defeat against West Ham but the response this week was good and this is the way to follow in our next few games.
"Big teams have to do this and we did it this week. It is still a long way to go and we have to win every game now."
Having suffered a 1-0 defeat at derby rivals West Ham, Chelsea have hit back with victories over Huddersfield and Southampton.
A top-four finish may be the best that they can hope for, with Alonso’s timely effort against the Saints – which came in the third minute of first-half stoppage-time – helping to keep them on course to hit that target.
He added on his stunning free-kick: "It was a very good minute to score and I am happy to help the team get the three points.
“I had another couple of chances and I was a bit unlucky. The ball came to my right foot which is not my stronger one."